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Collective vehicle for London council funds to invest by June 2015

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A collective investment vehicle (CIV) being set up by a group of London’s local government pension schemes (LGPS) is set to make its first investments by June 2015.

Twenty-eight of the 33 LGPS funds in London have so far committed to the creation of a city-wide investment vehicle, which would look to create economies of scale.

Each has committed £25,000 (€31,590) to fund the set-up costs for the CIV, as discussions are ongoing with the remaining five funds over their participation.

Last week, the organisation responsible for the CIV, London Councils, announced the creation of the holding company for the vehicle in what it called a “significant milestone”.

The 28 founding investors are currently analysing allocations to look for commonality.

This could result in the funds identifying duplicated asset class and manager mandates, with the view to renegotiating fees given the larger scale.

London Councils said the CIV, once up and running next year, could also support infrastructure investment.

Hugh Grover, local government finance policy director at London Councils, said focus was now on setting up the tax-transparent fund the organisation would use for its CIV.

But, he said, given these funds are relatively new, it will take time.

“We would look to set up the fund on Day One based on those common mandates,” he said.

“There is work to be done – this is partly setting up the legal framework, but, because it is a tax-transparent fund, and we are local government, we are working on the final detailed operating model.

“We do not have the usual fund structure of an asset manager, so we need to think about how we put this together.”

London Councils is yet to approach the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for approved use of a tax-transparent fund.

The use of common investment vehicles is currently being considered by central government for implementation across the 89 LGPS funds in England and Wales.

These would be focused on asset class and be accessible to all LGPS funds.

However, Grover said the group was not working with the government on this model.

“They have told us they have a process to go through and ministers have yet to take final decisions,” he said.

“They are very aware of what we are doing, and have not told us to stop.”

Grover said, once the fund was set up, it would aim ensure the local councils influenced the decisions of the CIV.

“The fund is being set up for the local councils, so it needs to reflect what they need, and we will think about how we allow that influence to flow through in an acceptable, regulated structure,” he said. 

Mayor Jules Pipe, chair of London Councils, said pension funds outside London had also expressed an interest in the CIV.

“The government asked whether a separate CIV should be set up for ‘alternative assets’, but we see no reason to divide the model by asset class,” he added.

“There is sufficient flexibility to allow a variety of funds to be constructed that meet the boroughs’ investment objectives, including, in the alternatives space, where it makes sense and delivers the right returns.”

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